Mothers-to-be who consume moderate to high levels of caffeine may unknowingly increase their child’s risk of being overweight in early childhood.
Researchers analyzed about 51,000 mothers and their infants who were part of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study between 2002 and 2008. Once the mothers hit 22 weeks of pregnancy, they were asked to detail their food and drink intake, including their caffeine intake. Coffee, black tea, caffeinated soft/energy drinks, chocolate, chocolate milk, sandwich spreads and desserts, cakes and sweets were all considered sources of caffeine.
The results, published in the online journal BMJ Open, indicate that any caffeine consumption during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of excess weight gain in early childhood, especially during preschool ages.
Kids who were exposed to very high levels of caffeine while in the womb had a 66% increased risk of being overweight in their early childhood, while those exposed to moderate and high levels of caffeine had a 15% to 30% increased risk of gaining excess weight prematurely.
Researchers noted that “maternal caffeine intake may modify the overall weight growth trajectory of the child from birth to 8 years.”